Barriers to Travel Series: Part 3 (Traveling is expensive, and it’s not in the budget…)

This is part of the “Barriers to Travel Series”, where we have been talking about why we often put off traveling, and trying to find ways to work around, with, or in spite of them.

Sometimes, these reasons are really true. And today is no different.

Travel is expensive, and it’s just not in the budget. 

Travel can be a huge drain financially. It would be naive to think that we could travel some of the most elite places with budget-travel tips, budget-friendly apps, and a simple line addition to our budgets.  Some places are just not that accessible…and that’s ok.

We often think this is true as a rule, rather than an exception. Howeverthis truth doesn’t need to halt your travel plans. 

There are several ways to enjoy travel on a more modest budget.

Mindset & Practical Changes: 

In reality, very few people in the world can travel wherever they want without thought (on some level) to cost. When we start to realize that, we start to see some of our options rather than all of our limitations.

We may be able to embrace traveling on a budget if we think out of the box.

As we develop a better sense of what we want from our trip, we can find budget-friendly options. It may not be a 2-week stay in Fiji, but it may be a week-long road trip to test various wineries.  It may not be a 5-Star resort, but perhaps it’s a 3-Star hotel with a breakfast that allows more daily tours and activities.

Before you start, Know your hard and fast budget. Nothing’s more frustrating in trip-planning  than planning an amazing trip and finding out it’s too expensive. Walk into the planning phase knowing you have “x amount” of dollars and approach the budget process with the idea of making your money work for you to give you the best possible experience.

Once the mindset is settled & your finances are defined, you can begin moving forward. Practically, there are adjustments that can be made.  This is by no means an exhaustive list…just a few things to get us started thinking on the scale of areas where there are cheaper options and more expensive options.

You can adjust your ideas and options.

Who doesn’t want to go see giraffes on safari? However, perhaps (like us) that’s not where you are at right now financially. Narrow down your travel options by asking a few of these questions:

  • Do I need luxury on this trip or will I be content with being budget-conscious? Perhaps you could do a US city and live like a king or go see Ireland and make some of your own meals. Knowing which will make you more contented can help you, not only in planning but in the actual enjoyment of your trip. Adjusting expectations can be key to enjoying the experience.

You can adjust your travel accommodations.                                  

  • How much time will I spend in the hotel?  Are you looking to choose to get a nicer hotel because you are longing  for a relaxing feel. Perhaps you know you are traveling to see the city, and can easily adjust to an Air B’n’B flat.
  • What are my non-negotiables from my accommodations to make my trip enjoyable?  Perhaps you have to have breakfast or a good restaurant on-sight.  Perhaps it’s a pool. Perhaps you just need a roof and bed. Whatever it is, assess whether it is really important enough to spend hard-earned money on ans perhaps cut from another area. Also, ensure that you will truly need that to make your experience more enjoyable. 
  • What will travel to and from the sights/city center be and what will it cost me financially and in time?     Hidden costs, like transportation, can all be factored to help you make the decision on how to spend your money. A hotel that is a few dollars more in the city may actually be better than a place outside with fees to transport in.  Does Uber or Lyft run in the places you’re looking? What is public transport and are there cost-effective day or week passes?   

You can adjust your transportation costs.

  • Are you willing to Road-trip if it cost-effective, and if so, what sights would you want to see? It takes a bit more active thought, but a road-trip can be a wonderful way to see some awesome places while saving money! 
  • Are you able to save on fees for airlines by only packing a carry-on? We don’t remember the last time we checked a bag, and we have traveled for 14 days at a time. Many seasoned travelers have done much longer than that! It’s doable and cost-effective! 
  • Do you have flexibility to travel in non-peak seasons or days to get better rates? Picking vacations at times when demand is low can help your cost as well! 
  • Are you willing to fly budget-Airlines? What does comfort mean to you and would you be willing to fly overseas on an airline like EasyJet or Ryanair if it means you can save major amounts of money? Sure, no airline food, but how much do you really want to pay for that perk?

You can adjust your pre-trip planning. 

  • Are you willing to adjust financially  for a trip that you really want to take? If there is space in the budget, and sometimes there isn’t, could you make adjustments to help your budget for your trip? For example, could your morning latte from Starbucks be skipped in order to have some amazing Cappuccino in Paris? Could you save your spare change to buy a wonderful meal on your roadtrip or purchase a memorable souvenir?
  • Are you able to change to Travel-friendly financial options now? Could you find a credit card with rewards, designating the rewards for your trip? Can you switch credit cards and find a travel-friendly option, earning miles or hotel points that can allow travel to be easier? 
  • Are you willing to research using budget-friendly apps, blogs, websites? has been invaluable for us to travel cheaply. Air B’n’B has supplied us with amazing places while traveling overseas, and often provides a more realistic view of life in the city we are visiting. We have also used Expedia, booking refundable rooms to ensure we don’t lose money if our trip cancels (and no, we aren’t getting paid for any of these recommendations.) We have booked tours on sites like Viator, allowing us to pay most things up front. 

Travel isn’t something for other people to engage in…its there for everyone.  We just have to figure out how it works for us, given our situation. 

Travel teaches contentment. It allows us to see the world around us through a different lens. It shows us people who live their lives happily in a variety of ways, with a variety of means. It’s an invaluable lesson.

And with proper tools and a little contentment before we start, we can keep our budget under control while we keep learning from the world.

What are some tips you have found for budget travel? 


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